Saturday Morning Television
There was a time of day where kids ruled the household and, quite possibly, the world. This great period of history was each and every Saturday morning while dads were out, and about and moms were sleeping in. Television recognized this and provided for us, an entire culture transfered to us from TV air waves.
There were times when we'd wake up earlier than usual on a Saturday morning, and be faced with the old TV test pattern. This was a signal that television - all illustrious 4 channels of it - weren't ready to come on yet. How sad it was to see this horrible thing on the screen.
Breakfast cereal was also a runner up for top competitor on a Saturday morning. Commercials dictated to us kids which cereal was the best to have. Depending on the skill of the advertiser, and the creativity of the staff cartoonist, ultimately us kids decided which was best. If it puffed, krinkled, popped, or came in a variety of colors, it was no doubt the most healthy.
Saturday morning television offered the best shows. Some of these include "The Adventures of Superman", "The Lone Ranger", "Bomba, the Jungle Boy" and some great cartoons. "Highway Patrol" sometimes played in the early afternoons, as did Jon Gnagy. I do remember that Sky King was my favorite, and sometimes it was on twice in one day. I could never get enough of Sky King and his wonderful plane that flew the desert skies. It was fascinating to me to have a cowboy hero flying in a plane. One of my favorite things was a glass of milk with Nestle's Quik added. It was the perfect mid-morning compliment to these terrific shows. "Lassie" often ran in syndication on weekday mornings along with "Leave it to Beaver", but I remember watching it in prime time early on Sunday evenings. Interestingly, at one point, it was called "Jeff's Collie". With my name being Jeff, and us having many collies in our lifetime, the program hit a bit closer to my heart. My top favorites were Roy Rogers, Sky King and Fury. I was most partial to cowboy shows and western themes. Ranches, horses, guns and good guys were tops for me.
Aside from cowboys and ranch hands were my other heroes of TV likeSuperman and Bomba The Jungle Boy. Though I seem to recall Bomba as a TV show, I don't think it was. There must have been times when the Bomba movies showed on TV early on Saturday mornings.
Cartoons and Westerns were extremely popular on Saturday mornings. "My Friend Flicka" was a great show about a boy's devotion to his horse. It was a half-hour show that ran on Saturday mornings in syndication. Another one I used to watch was "The Adventures of Rin Tin-Tin" about a boy living in an army fort with his faithful German Shepard. Animal shows were very popular with me, and these two were among my favorites. "The Roy Rogers Show" was another of my stronger favorites, and along with "Sky King", I made sure I never missed one of these. He even had a horse named "Trigger". How cool was that? "The Lone Ranger" was another one we watched, plus "Annie Oakley" was fun. Her horse was named "Target".
As for cartoons, so many of them appeared on Saturday mornings, and then re-appeared in the week on other channels. Among my earliest favorites were King Leonard & Friends with the king's faithful sidekick Odie Cologne. I was also a huge Rocky & Bullwinkle fan, and Beanie and Cecil plus all of the Post Cereal commercials have a soft spot in my heart. Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, The Jetsons, and many more sometimes made Saturday morning appearances in syndication. More about cartoons can be found here.
The girl stars of Saturday morning TV were really quite acceptable. Annie Oakley was another favorite, and she was so great that I had trouble thinking of her as a girl. Annie could stand upright on her saddle when her horse was running and shoot a hole through a playing card! When it came to the girl stars, I was too young to think of them as anything but good ol' trouble-causing girls. Still, they had good qualities; they were heroines either directly, or indirectly. Many were in support roles like Sky King's niece Penny, Roy's gal Dale Evans, and Superman's Lois Lane. Some were tomboys like Penny, and tomboys always appealed to me because they were not only willing to do boy stuff, but fully understood how cool it was! There were also unspoken guy/gal relationships on TV like Superman/Clark Kent's girlfriend-yet not girlfriend- Lois Lane, and Perry Mason's beloved-yet still only a secretary- Della Street. This technique worked quite well from episode to episode of these wonderful shows, inspiring more of the same techniques on other shows like the Matt Dillon & Kitty combo on "Gunsmoke".
Saturday Afternoons Also offered some great shows. "Science Fiction Theater" was over my head, but my brothers watched it, so I watched it with them. "Highway Patrol" was another show we watched quite often. Jon Gnagy TV's art teacher that taught me a pure love of gray skies to this day due to his shading and our old black and white TV.
I never grew tired of watching Jon. He always made such magic in such a short period of time. I remember getting a Jon Gnagy art set for Christmas once; it was one of the most fascinating presents I ever received. Everything was black and white and gray, all the chalks and pencils. Watch Jon do a snow scene and talk about the old days when it was exciting to find that the mailman has left something in the box!
"Rabbit Ear Reception" was always a struggle for us all back in the 60's. Fall and winter seemed to be the worst seasons, whenever there was a lot of rain, wind, or just plain cold. Rabbit ear reception was probably one of the oldest maladies known to mankind and we fought valiantly.
Urban myths about aluminum foil, and/or metal forks balanced onto the metal rods seemed to have some merit as the reception could almost improve at times. Remember how sometimes having the rabbit ears touching the wall, or window blinds seemed to work miracles? Remember how somebody just had to stand there and hold the antenna while you sat back and said "Perfect! Just stay there"?
C O L O R !
When color television came into our household in 1966, cartoons came to life with vivid hues and brilliant color! The first show I ever saw in color was the "The Lone Ranger" cartoon show. My brother Kenny lived in a duplex next door to us and he had a huge color console set. After that, my dad had to have one. After years of black and white, color TV was miraculous.
The later 60's shows were fantastic to watch in color. Shows like "The Time Tunnel", "The Invaders" "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" were incredible, not to mention all the great westerns on TV. The westerns provided us with the splendor of rivers, mountains, deserts and valleys, all in living color.